Unrest damages pupils' chances

2nd May 1997 at 01:00
ALBANIA. Many schools which have been damaged or ransacked during the current unrest should reopen in August, writes Harvey McGavin.

Tatjana Vucani, inspector of foreign languages at the ministry of education in Tirana, said that since the state of emergency was declared two months ago, all classes had been suspended.

Children had been receiving distance learning via TVbroadcasts aimed at 14- and 18-year-olds, who face exams in the summer. The immediate priority was to ensure that they complete their studies.

"If we lose this academic year it will be a disaster," she said. "Many schools and museums have been damaged, but the people who are damaged are the children - so many have been killed and injured and we lack medical supplies."

Since joining the Council of Europe in 1992, Albania has received help in reforming its curriculum and textbooks. But its needs are more basic than the council's other member states - Ms Vucani shares a computer with the rest of her department and books are in short supply.

The advent of a market economy has starved schools of good teachers. "We already had a problem with jobless Russian teachers after we made English and German the main foreign languages," Ms Vucani said. "But because salaries are very low, English teachers can work in the private sector and earn three times more than they do as a teacher. Now we are using unqualified teachers - graduates in maths or history or geography who know some English."

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